How to Become Righteous

How to Become Righteous

The Last Judgment, separating the sheep from the goats
Do you remember the Bible story of Jesus coming back to separate people from each other like a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-)? At the first glimpse it looks like the reason why some are saved is based on their works when Jesus reveals ‘I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36)

This used to puzzle me. I know we are told to feed the hungry and help the needy. But we fail so very often. Lord, have mercy! And that’s the use of the Law. To drive us (back) to God. But still our works won’t save us. And that is revealed to us in this gospel text, too, if we read it carefully.

“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (Matthew 25: 37-39, CEB)

Did you get it? Those who are righteous were selected even though even them failed to do the law. How did they become righteous?

However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. (Gal 2:16, CEB)

When we are in Christ, when we have been made right with God through Christ, we are righteous indeed. And when we are righteous there is no condemnation to us. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all who believe in Jesus are treated as righteous as him.


God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous. (Romans 3:22-26, CEB)

We are told to “do” good things. But we should never forget that all is “done” for us. We should rest in grace, celebrate that all is done. But we should also live in grace and let the Holy Spirit do things through us. This is what balancing the law and the gospel in our lives means. We need both the law and the gospel. The law will drive us to God for the gospel. But God’s grace does not stop there. Grace always sends us to share the good news with others. Love always sends us to treat others the way we’ve been treated. Because captives don’t need to stay captive. The ransom has been paid. We are redeemed. We are free. Alleluia!


Gracious God,
We are in awe of you.
You truly sent your own righteous Son
to die for our sake.
You truly redeemed us by grace.
You truly made us righteous.
Be praised forever and ever!
Enable us to always live in your grace.
Equip us to always share your grace.
In Jesus’ name,

Q4U: Do you have trouble finding balance between the Law and the Gospel?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you boldly live out your faith in Christ and serve Him with everything you’ve got!

Image, “The Last Judgment by Fra Angelico”, courtesy of Wikimedia . Linking up today with Thought-Provoking Thursdays.

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